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Chapter 12 : Snake

Page No: 124

1. Snakes generate both horror and fascination. Do you agree? Why? Why


I agree to the fact that snakes generate both horror and fascination.
Snakes are legless reptiles that glide their way through water and
ground. They are carnivorous and thus, can be very dangerous. They can
prey on objects larger than their heads which makes snakes a highly
risky reptile to encounter. Of course it is because of these traits that
people find it fascinating to keep snakes as their pet. They are lovely to
look at because of their colours and designs on their bodies. Patterns on
different species of snakes symbolise beauty.

Page No: 128

5. Based on your reading of the poem, answer the following questions by

ticking the correct options:

(1) 'he lifted his head from his drinking as cattle do' - The poet wants to
convey that the snake (a) is domesticated (b) is innocent (c) is as
harmless as cattle (d) drinks water just like cattle


(d) drinks water just like cattle

(2) 'Sicilian July', 'Etna smoking' and 'burning bowels of the earth' are
images that convey that
(a) there are snakes in volcanic areas
(b) the poet lived in a hot area
(c) it was a really hot day when the snake came
(d) Sicilian snakes are dangerous


(c) it was a really hot day when the snake came

(3) 'A sort of horror, a sort of protest overcame me' - The poet is filled
with protest because
(a) he doesn't want to let the snake remain alive
(b) he fears the snake
(c) he doesn't want the snake to recede into darkness
(d) he wants to kill it so that it doesn't return


(c) he doesn't want the snake to recede into darkness

(4) In the line 'And as he slowly drew up, snake-easing his shoulders, and
entered farther' the phrasesnake easing' his shoulders means
(a) loosening its shoulders
(b) slipping in with majestic grace
(c) moving slowly
(d) moving fast


(b) slipping in with majestic grace

(5) 'He seemed to me like a king in exile' The poet refers to the snake
as such to emphasize that the snake
(a) is like a king enduring banishment
(b) Is like a king due to be crowned
(c) Is a majestic king who came for a while on earth
(d) is a majestic creature forced to go into exile by man


(d) is a majestic creature forced to go into exile by man

(6) 'I thought how paltry, how vulgar, what a mean act' -The poet is
referring to
(a) the snake going into the dreadful hole
(b) the accursed modern education
(c) the act of throwing a log of wood at the snake
(d) the act of killing the snake


(c) the act of throwing a log of wood at the snake

Page No: 130

6. Answer the following questions briefly:

(a) Why does the poet decide to stand and wait till the snake has
finished drinking? What does this tell you about the poet? (Notice that
he uses 'someone' instead of 'something' for the snake.)
The poet decides to stand and wait till the snake has finished drinking
because he was second to come over there. The snake was the first
comer. Unless the snake was gone, he couldnt go to the trough.

(b) In stanza 2 and 3, the poet gives a vivid description of the snake by
using suggestive expressions. What picture of the snake do you form on
the basis of this description?


From the above mentioned stanzas, the picture of the snake emerges
very beautiful and clear.
The snake is yellow-brown or golden-brown in colour. It weakly trails his
soft belly over the edge of the stone trough. It seems tired and thirsty
and drank water slowly. Just like a cattle, it raises its head and then
drinks some more water. It has a two-forked tongue, which it flickered
and mused while drinking.

(c) How does the poet describe the day and the atmosphere when he
saw the snake?


It was a very hot day in Sicily, in the summer month of July. The earth
was parched and dry and Mount Etna was sending out fumes, which
made the day even more hot. But the water trough was under the
scented Carob- tree.

(d) What does the poet want to convey by saying that the snake
emerges from the 'burning bowels of the earth'?


By this the poet wants to convey that there is intense heat inside the
hole of the earth as it is burning.

(e) Do you think the snake was conscious of the poet's presence? How
do you know?


No, the snake was not conscious of the poets presence. He looked
around vaguely but did not notice the poet. If he had been conscious,
then the snake would not have mused in between drinking water nor
would have taken so much time in drinking water. It would
have vanished very quickly.

(f) How do we know that the snake's thirst was satiated? Pick out the
expressions that convey this.
The snakes thirst was satiated as it looked dreamily after drinking the
water. The expressions used to justify the same are: and flickered his
two-forked tongue, mused a moment, he drank enough, and lifted
his head dreamily.

(g) The poet has a dual attitude towards the snake. Why does he
experience conflicting emotions on seeing the snake?

The poet is both afraid of the snake and is also fascinated by it. Social
education had taught the poet that all snakes are poisonous so they
must be struck down, whereas the snakes dignified manner evokes the
poets admiration. These dual responses were like two voices that make
the poet strike at the snake, much against his wishes.

(h) The poet is filled with horror and protest when the snake prepares to
retreat and bury itself in the 'horrid black', 'dreadful' hole. In the light of
this statement, bring out the irony of his act of throwing a log at the


The irony of the situation lies in the fact that the poet likes the snake for
its beauty and considered it like a king and a guest, yet he hit the snake
with a log. Moreover, though he did not want it to go, his act forces the
snake to leave immediately.

(i) The poet seems to be full of admiration and respect for the snake. He
almost regards him like a majestic God. Pick out at least four expressions
from the poem that reflect these emotions.


The expressions are: and flickered his two-forked tongue/ from his lips,
and mused a moment, But must I confess, I liked him, How glad I
was, like a guest in quiet, I stared with fascination, Like a king in

(j) What is the difference between the snake's movement at the

beginning of the poem and later when the poet strikes it with a log of
wood? You may use relevant vocabulary from the poem to highlight the


The snakes movement at the beginning is slack and relaxed. He takes a

lot of time to drink water and sips and enjoys it by licking his lips. After
drinking water, he moves as dreamily, as one who is drunk and very
slowly goes back to the crack in the wall. When the poet throws a log at
his tail, he vanishes very quickly, with the speed of lightning, in an
undignified manner.

(k) The poet experiences feelings of self-derision, guilt and regret after
hitting the snake. Pick out expressions that suggest this. Why does he
feel like this?


The expressions are A sort of horror, a sort of protest, I thought how

paltry, how vulgar, what a mean act!, I despised myself, to expiate, A

The poet feels this way because he feel regret and realizes that he
shouldnt have thrown a log to kill the snake.

(l) You have already read Coleridge's poem The Ancient Mariner in which
an albatross is killed by the mariner. Why does the poet make an
allusion to the albatross?
The Ancient Mariner had also killed the albatross for no reason and here
also the snake had proved
to be harmless, yet the poet tried to kill it. Later on both the mariner
and the poet regret their decision. The Mariner has to make amends by
being punished and here also the poet is already thinking of
compensating for the crime committed.

(m) 'I have something to expiate'-Explain.

It means that the poet has something to regret for ever. This is that he
shouldnt have thrown a log to kill the snake.

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